From time to time, your company will need to take on projects to increase business or inject a much-needed change into your workplace. Projects are one-time efforts by definition, and they will require you to grow and add to your skill set to accomplish the project goals. But in order to keep a project from getting too time-consuming, too expensive, or too substandard, you need put some constraints on your projects. The project itself is the seat of the “Three-Legged Stool” and Cost, Quality, and Schedule are the legs. To have an efficient and effective project, you need to have all legs of the stool be equal so there’s no wobbling!
Managing a small or medium-sized business means knowing all about budget constraints, right? But there’s a fine line between putting your project on a tight-but-fair budget and totally starving it out and still expecting quality. Look realistically at the goals you’re setting out to accomplish, and do the research on what each piece of the project will really cost to complete. For instance, if you want to set up new software systems, look not only at the costs of different software packages, but also different installation, implementation, and training options, and don’t forget to budget the time you and your employees will spend on the project, too.
You know what you need to do, and it looks like something you can do with the money you have available. Now ask yourself: How much time do you really need and how much can you afford based on your set budget? Create a timeline for the project by finding a realistic end-date that you can afford to go over just a little. This will keep your project on-budget and on-quality while still allowing for a minor snag or two.
Given your time schedule and budgetary constraints, what project quality can you realistically expect? This is the third “leg” of the table, and the one that most people make too long for the size of the Time and Budget legs. But the truth is, for most small businesses, time and budget are in shorter supply, so quality must be taken down to match up with them. Just be sure to not go low-quality, because at that point your project might not even be worth the trouble.
Have a project idea but don’t know where to start? In the midst of a project that’s not going as planned, yet don’t know where to turn? A project management consultant is here to help you through! We can build a great Three-Legged Stool for your project to rest on. And if we suggest a project as your current business management consultants, you can bet that we will guide you through it as much or as little as you need so you can get to the results: Growing your small business!
Barb is the CEO of Fisher Bookkeeping, an outsourced bookkeeping consultancy that provides small businesses with a full-service financial department. Her favorite aspect of work is to break down the accounting to meaningful bits, so entrepreneurs can make a powerful difference in their own business. She's also a power lifter (squat: 215, DL: 270).